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Connecting Brain Wave Therapy With Alzheimer’s

Sounds futuristic but it’s actually taking place now. Brain wave therapy is showing more and more promise in connection with treating Alzheimer’s disease. When brain cells fire in sync and rhythmically, they produce waves characterized by their firing frequencies.

There are many types of waves: delta waves are produced during deep sleep, theta waves occur during meditation and running, and gamma waves are associated with concentration and excitement.

Gamma rays are where scientists are honing in, as disruption of this type of wave could be a top contributor to Alzheimer’s disease pathology. The restoration of these waves could one day be an option for Alzheimer’s disease treatment, according to a study outlined on The Scientist. This is exciting news if you have a loved one in hospice suffering from dementia in San Francisco and elsewhere.

Flashing Lights and Pink Noises

Huh? Well, this is exactly what neuroscientists think may banish the effects of Alzheimer’s and actually improve memory.

Scientists have known about the waves of electrical activity that constantly run throughout our brains for nearly a century but have been struggling up till now to give these oscillations a definitive role in brain function.

Back in 2015, a researcher from MIT named Li-Huei Tsai set up a tiny disco in her laboratory for a bunch of mice, which were engineered to produce a certain peptide in the brain long associated with Alzheimer’s. They were exposed to the flickering strobe for quite some time. Those who had been exposed to the lights and pink noises (random noises with equal energy per octave, with more low-frequency components than, say, white noise) were found to have significantly lower levels of plaque than those who spent the same amount of time in the darkness, according to Nature.

By eliminating the plaque-forming proteins, researchers may have unlocked the key to stopping memory loss and indeed even improving it in the first place.

A growing body of evidence is suggesting more of a connection to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases than was originally thought. Stalling, halting or even reversing the damage caused by these conditions without the use of drugs is the hope for the future. Some researchers are using the direct application of electrical currents to the brain as a treatment for anything from schizophrenia to insomnia to premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

The MIT study showed the first sign of a promising cellular response to brainwave manipulation that will only be further explored from here. The stimulation of gamma waves essentially reduced amyloid-β levels, slashed phosphorylation of tau, and prompted the brain’s immune cells (called microglia) to clear cellular debris rather than take an inflammatory response as microglia tend to do when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease.

First Human Subject

Peg Gleason, 83 years old from San Francisco, was the first to sign up for the MIT-backed human trial of the experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s disease back in January of 2017. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2011. The study was supposed to last seven days a week for seven months. She wore large sunglasses with the lenses blacked out, with small LED lights attached that flickered at 40 Hertz. She also wore earphones that played a tone at 40 hertz, with pads on her hands that vibrated. Each treatment lasted one hour.

Within days of the treatment, Peg started to realize an improvement in memory. She also felt euphoric. After a month, though, the researchers decided to stop the treatment and conduct a review of the findings. Peg told them within a few days, the fog started to roll back in. Five weeks after the study ended, her husband reported an uptick in her anxiety, sundowning, and confusion. It’s not really clear why this particular study was stopped, but speculation ranges from lack of funding to roadblocks from the FDA. Other researchers around the country, including Boston, are picking up where it left off, trying to conduct more human trials.

In the end, the study findings are promising but the conclusions are far from set in stone. Far more research must be done to make conclusive statements on the effectiveness of brainwave therapy and its connection with Alzheimer’s. There are concerns that the side effects of the treatment can be detrimental to some people. For example, gamma oscillations have been known to induce seizures in those with photosensitive epilepsy. Nevertheless, there is certainly a growing excitement that centers around this revolutionary treatment of neurological diseases using brainwave therapy instead of pharmaceuticals.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

To learn more about our hospice care program and how it can help your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, contact us today at 888-978-1306. Check out our Hospice FAQs to do more research on our program and what we offer.